Irish wool knitwear is most iconically represented by the Aran cable knit sweaters. Just think of Clancey brothers kitted out in bnine (Irish for white) wool jumpers. The Aran tradition derives from the West of Ireland, especially the Aran Islands, where traditional fishing communities would have made their clothing by combining stiches such as the cable, honeycomb, blackberry, moss and basket stitches, trellis, diamond, and the tree of life among the most widespread. This is the background of a relatively recently born and widely popularised fisherman sweater. A fascinating rise to fame and stylistic ingenuity has ensured, that Aran knitwear has not only survived into the 21st century, but has become one of the most inspirational lines of craft.
Today, brands such as Carraig Donn, Original Aran Co., West End and Irelands Eye offer countless contemporary and classic versions of the Irish Aran sweater. From the traditional crew-neck pull-overs, to cardigans, coats, and tunics - every company has made their contribution to offering freshly up-dated and versatile styles. The creativity of our Irish knitwear makers combined with modern technology, and a keen eye for changing aesthetic vocabularies, produces a range of apparel that could not be dreamt of only a century ago. They fill our store with an array of garments that stand out - each with different and attractive neck-lines, cuts, and lengths.
Another, every bit as Irish, tradition of the fisherman aran irish sweater is actually as different from the Aran cable and derives from the North of the West of Ireland, Co. Donegal. Many people think of tweeds in association with the said region, but, of course, the same wool coloured and spun into a rainbow of multi-tone yarns goes into the making of tweedy fisherman sweaters. It is said, that the colour combinations for Donegal yarns owe to close observation of the palette of nature, rendered with an artistic exaggeration - so to bring out the dreamiest, and most evocative of hues.
Fisherman out of Ireland, Donegal Design, and Studio Donegal are notable for bringing the best of this side of Irish craft to our stores. As with the Arans, nowadays there is much more choice, including the diversification of materials used. Albeit, we still stick with only natural fibres there are sweaters made with the coarser Irish wool, soft Merino wool, and, even some cashmere blends. People often come back to the store looking to replace one of their Donegal fisherman sweaters after years of wear, because of how fondly they have worn them. There is an undeniable character to every so beautifully coloured garment as that. And, nature is a superb designer!